Saad Bin Zafar: Canadian Cricket’s Cinderella Story!

2020-03-16

Extracted from "Wickets" magazine

If ever there was a male version of the Cinderella fairy-tale story, Canada’s Saad Bin Zafar would certainly qualify as a most appropriate subject for such an honour. His rise from the relative obscurity of Canadian cricket to international prominence as Man of the Match for the Vancouver Knights Championship Final victory in the Toronto hosted Inaugural Season of the Mercury Canada Global T20 Championship Final, can only best be described as meteoric!

Saad Bin Zafar (born 10 November 1986) is a Pakistan-born Canadian cricketer who plays for the Canada national cricket team. As a left handed batsman and left-arm orthodox spin bowler, Zafar is sufficiently competent in both as to be regarded as a genuine all rounder.

Zafar's Cinderella story had a very early start. At the tender age of 10 he started playing tape ball on the streets of his hometown. Later at the age of 14 his school's sports teacher spotted Zafar and introduced him to leather ball cricket by selecting him for the school's juniors cricket team.

In 2004, having immigrated from Pakistan to Canada, Saad started playing club cricket for Overseas Cricket Club in the Premier Division of the Toronto & District Cricket League. His consistently outstanding League performances eventually caught the attention of the Canadian national Team Selectors. Zafar made his international debut on 4 July 2008 playing against Bermuda. He looked impressive on his debut as he took 4 wickets, including the wicket of Bermuda's captain Irving Romaine who was close to scoring a century.

Since then Zafar’s Canadian cricketing career has been punctuated by several outstanding international and domestic performances, By far the most impressive of these occurred when he scored 262 not out in a 50 over game in Scarborough Cricket League’s Premier Division in August 2015.

In January 2017, having been selected as one of Canada’s representatives for the ICC Americas in the 2016–17 Caribbean Regional Super50 Championships, Zafar emerged as the team’s leading wicket taker. The following year, in January 2018, he was named in Canada's squad for the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Two Qualification Tournament.

On 3 June 2018, Zafar was selected to play for the Vancouver Knights during the Players' Draft for the Inaugural Season of the Global T20 Canada tournament. Zafar was the second Canadian player to be selected in the Draft after Nikhil Dutta in round 9.

Zafar’s performances in his Global T20 Canada outings were highly commendable, In his third outing, in the Vancouver Knights match against the Montreal Tigers his bowling figures were 3/21 off his allocated 4 overs. In his fifth match, played against the Toronto Nationals, he was again impressive with the ball, taking 2/22 in 3.5 overs, He also scored an unbeaten 12 in a 47-run match winning partnership with Chadwick Walton.

In the final match of the 2018 Global T20 Canada Tournament against the West Indies B cricket team he had figures of 2 for 26 runs including a wicket
maiden over. Vancouver Knights didn’t have an ideal start to the chase as Chadwick Walton, Chris Gayle and Ben Dunk fell cheaply to leave them at 22 for 3. But Zafar and Rassie van der Dussen compiled a crucial unbeaten 126-run partnership to get Knights back on track in the chase. Zafar played the role of an aggressor, dealing in regular boundaries to post a 32-ball fifty. He collected eight fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 48- ball innings which yielded 79 runs.

Zafar’s brilliant all round performance, with both ball and bat in the Championship Final was pivotal to the Vancouver Knights eventual emergence
as Title winners. Hoisted on the shoulders of his jubilant more globally prominent international teammates he was adjudged Man Of The Match for his brilliant all-round performance.

A fitting conclusion to the most recent chapter or Saad Bin Zafar’s continuing Cinderella story. With further domestic and international match appearances becoming readily available, opportunities will certainly exist for Saad Bin Zafar’s recently acclaimed stardom to rise even higher!

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